MEP from Forest Gate selected as interim Ukip leader

Ukip interim party leader Gerard Batten Picture: Isabel Infantes

Ukip interim party leader Gerard Batten Picture: Isabel Infantes - Credit: Archant

A politician from Forest Gate has been selected as Ukip’s interim leader and has promised to make it a “populist party”.

Gerard Batten, who has been an MEP since 2004, took control of the party at the weekend after leader Henry Bolton was ousted following a vote of no confidence.

Party members voted by 867 to 500 to remove Mr Bolton from the role during a crisis meeting in Birmingham. He had only been elected to the post in September.

Mr Batten said: “I feel optimistic that Ukip can and will grow stronger and more successful because ordinary patriotic people want, need and deserve a party that represents their interests.

“Ukip came into being because it filled a political vacuum. That vacuum still exists.

“I want Ukip to be a populist party - popular because its policies are what people actually want.”

He added: “We have had many crises in Ukip and I think this one was about whether we have a future or not.”

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Mr Batten, who stood for a seat on Newham Council for the now-defunct Park ward in 1993 as an Anti-Federalist League candidate before contesting Forest Gate North as a Ukip candidate in 2002, has also defened his description of Islam as a “death cult”.

He made the comments in a blog written shortly after last year’s Westminster terror attack.

Speaking on Sky News’ Sunday with Niall Paterson, Mr Batten said: “They believe in propagating their religion by killing other people and martyring themselves and going and getting their 72 virgins.

“Not all of them - that’s not saying that all of them do believe that or do that - I’m saying that a significant minority believe that and they are the problem.

“But the trouble is they are justified in those beliefs by a literalist interpretation of their own so-called holy texts.”

Mr Batten, who did not rule out standing for the leadership on a permanent basis, dismissed the suggestion Mr Bolton could take legal action against the party, telling his predecessor: “Get on with the rest of your life.”

A fresh election will take place within 90 days.